Joe Ellis never expected to find $3,800 in the dumpster when he was "dumpster diving" to make extra cash. Instead of keeping the money, Ellis made sure that it was properly handled by police and has now found fame among an elite group of do-gooders who have found and returned large-value objects.
"I turned it in to the people, the two guys that work there," Ellis told ABC News affiliate WKRN. He regularly goes through the trash behind a local convenience store in order to collect cans he then recycles for cash. On this day, though, he happened to find a small plastic bag with $3,800 in it.
"I told them about what happened, and I gave them the money and he was counting it out, one of the guys in the store. He said it was, I don't know, almost … $4,000," Ellis explained.
"When he dropped it off to me, I couldn't believe it," store owner Maulik Patel said. "He said he found it in the dumpster last night and dropped it off here and said if there is anyone looking [for the] money, you can give it to them." Patel then called the police, who were able to locate the owner on Monday.
"He was cleaning his car out, and he accidentally threw it [the money] away," Ellis said.The grateful man gave Ellis $400 as a thank you for returning it to him.
"A lot of customers come into the store and think it's unbelievable," Patel said. "When I told them what happened, they say that it's unbelievable because in this day not many people would turn in all that money."
While most people would not, it seems that more and more people are turning in valued objects and large sums of money accidentally lost.
In February, a homeless man collecting money in a cup was on the receiving end of a diamond engagement ring. When the woman realized she had lost her ring, she immediately went back to the man, whose name was Billy Ray Harris. He happily gave her the ring back.
"My grandfather was a reverend," he told KCTV. "He raised me from the time I was six months old and thank the Lord, it's a blessing, but I do still have some character."
Watch an interview with Joe Ellis here: